Criticism is unfair, says 'paedophile case' editor

An editor has defended his newspaper for publishing the name and address of a pensioner cleared of paedophile offences who was later murdered .

Grimsby Telegraph editor Peter Moore spoke out after his paper was criticised in court during the trial of a group of defendants accused of murdering 67-year-old Alfred Wilkins in an arson attack at his home.

Moore insisted the Telegraph followed normal press guidelines and published Wilkins’ address after his appearance at Grimsby Crown Court in November 2000 at which he was accused of three counts of indecent assault on a nine-year-old girl.

The prosecution at the Hull Crown Court murder trial suggested this week that events leading to the pensioner’s death followed that article.

Summing up, John Milmo QC said: "You [the jury] have in your minds the affect of that article in the Grimsby Telegraph. The Lord alone knows why they decided to include Mr Wilkins’ address, but they did and that is a fact.

"The events that followed seem to have resulted from that article.

"It is not my task to criticise the Grimsby Telegraph and I don’t. I simply point out the events that happened after publication." But Moore said: "While I understand the reasons for references to the original story, I think it was unfair to criticise the paper because we take great care to adhere to strict guidelines that cover the reporting of court cases.

"There were no reporting restrictions preventing its publication in November 2000 which would have been in place had the court thought there was a risk of retribution concerning the defendant.

"When reporting court cases, an address is vital in distinguishing a defendant from others of the same name. If not, there is a clear possibility of a libel action against the newspaper taken out by those other people."

Before the Hull trial started, Telegraph crime reporter Zoe Corney successfully made representations to the court to ensure a threatened Section 39 Order banning identification of a 17-year-old defendant was not put in place.

By Jon Slattery

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